Lou Gehrig and Macrobiotics

Posted on by Denny Waxman

For many Americans, Lou Gehrig is remembered as the Iron Horse, playing 17 seasons for the New York Yankees, but for many others, he is associated with ALS, or amytophic lateral sclerosis. Between 1925 and 1939 Gehrig didn’t miss a game; his prowess as a hitter won him national acclaim. So when at the age of 35 his batting average slowed, it was clear something was wrong. Doctors did not diagnose Gehrig with ALS at that time, but did identify problems with his gall bladder. Three years later, Gehrig would be dead from the effects of ALS, a rapidly progressive, fatal disease that degenerates the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

 

Today ALS is commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease and according to the ALS Association more than 30,000 Americans are effected by the disease. From a macrobiotic perspective, ALS is caused by an imbalanced diet and lifestyle. A diet that is rich in heavy animal foods, like meat, poultry, eggs, shellfish, and other fatty animal foods, together with fruits, citrus, chocolate, cold foods, like ice cream, and iced drinks, has an adverse effect on the stomach and pancreas. Medications and chemically altered foods may also play a part.

 

I became interested in Lou Gehrig’s diagnosis of ALS after seeing a photograph of him with Jimmie Foxx and Babe Ruth. In the image Gehrig’s arms are crossed in front of his stomach, a sharp contrast to Foxx and Ruth, appearing open with arms at their sides; for me it was apparent there was a correlation between his posture and weakness in his central digestive organs, especially his pancreas. According to macrobiotic diagnosis, Gehrig’s posture, arms folded and slightly leaning forward, shows a weakness in the central digestive system, especially the stomach and pancreas.

gehrig-foxx-ruth-2

I began to wonder what Lou Gehrig’s diet might have been like. After searching around the internet, I found a blog post, http://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/als-aka-lou-gehrigs-disease/ that described Gehrig’s diet as being rich in sodium and fats. His favorite foods were fried eel and shrimp, and he loved other fatty foods.

 

It seems that those involved with sports and entertainment are among the highest percentage of people to develop ALS. Athletes and performers often live chaotic lives. Because the pancreas thrives on order and regularity of meal times and lifestyle practices, it is important to establish consistency.

 

The foods that harm our central digestive organs also effect our motor neurons. The macrobiotic approach is to replace foods heavy in animal protein and fat with plant based protein and vegetable oil. It is important to have a very wide and varied macrobiotic practice. In addition, we recommend rubbing the body, especially the extremities with a damp, warm cloth morning and night to help circulation. To benefit from macrobiotics practices, an experienced and qualified macrobiotics counselor is needed to complement any medical treatment.

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Something to Digest

Posted on by Denny Waxman

In Oriental medicine, the body is thought to be composed of complementary systems.  In our digestive system, we actually have a second brain called the enteric nervous system.  The same kind of cells are found in both systems. From birth, our gut bacteria guides the development of our immune system and brain.  This ongoing relationship continues throughout our life.  The digestive system processes liquids (food and drink); and the nervous system processes vibrations, or thoughts and images.  Healthy digestion fosters healthy thinking.

 

Creating healthy gut bacteria starts with good eating habits.  That means sitting down to eat without distractions, at regular, recurring times.  In addition, good gut bacteria are fostered by natural activities, like walking, gardening, cleaning and sex.

 

Our gut is nourished by both prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are in essence fiber and serve as food for the probiotics, which are the actual bacteria and yeast that inhabit our digestive system.  Probiotics aid in the synthesis of vitamins and other valuable nutrients.

 

Fiber has a variety of functions: it activates and scours our digestive system, and binds with toxins and cholesterol to expel them from our body.  Fiber encourages the growth of healthy bacteria and suppresses the development of harmful bacteria.  Naturally fermented, pickled and unpasteurized foods are important and healthy sources of probiotics.

 

The most important prebiotics are found in whole grains, beans, fruits, and land and sea vegetables.  Sea vegetables include the most common seaweeds, like Nori, dulse, wakame and kombu.

 

Try to get a variety of naturally pickled, fermented, and unpasteurized foods, which come from grains, beans, fruits and vegetables.  The most important probiotics are miso, umeboshi plum, sauerkraut, and kimchi.  The full value of miso comes out when used as a soup.  When miso soup is made, the enzymes become activated and the liquid form is easy to absorb into the digestive system.  Umeboshi is a unique Japanese plum that encourages growth of healthy bacteria, and suppresses unhealthy bacteria.  It has a salty and tangy taste that goes well with grains.

 

Try to observe the connection between your digestion and your moods and thoughts.  I hear consistently from my counseling clients that they feel better, think more clearly, and sleep more soundly in a very short period of time.  A combination of sound eating habits, healthy activities and dietary choices creates the best nourishment and digestion.

digestive

No Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Macrobiotics

Linking emotions and nature: The Macrobiotic Diet

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Emotions are a bridge between the mind and body.  When we eat local and unrefined food, prepared with care and love, our mind follows with flowing, harmonious emotions.  Our natural state is a calm, peacefulness, flowing into joy. Healthy emotions allow us to deal smoothly with all aspects of life.  As the seasons shift, as do emotions; summer is greeted with a full bloom of emotions, while winter may bring more solitary, subdued feelings.

 

Emotions are directly linked to our health; consuming meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, puts emotions on edge, causing them to surge or remain stagnant.  For those of us living in temperate climatic regions, certain foods interfere with our ability to express emotions well, especially tropical foods, iced foods and chemicals.  The most common are: banana, coconut, ice cream, yogurt, iced drinks, artificial sweeteners, and heavily chemicalized foods.

 

Foods that nourish our emotional health also produce health at all levels, including cardiovascular health.  A plant based diet, consisting of grains, beans, vegetables, nuts, seeds and seasonal fruits creates a happy equilibrium between the body and mind.  These same foods foster a direct connection between our mind and body, and the environment and nature.

 

Health is our default state.  This includes body and mind; we want to exist with balance between each.  The modern and contemporary lifestyle is creating a disconnect between our physical and emotional state and the environment.  To return to a plant based diet means restoring the connection between the environment and our emotional nature.

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The Age of Macrobiotics

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I was happy to read Dr. Neal Barnard’s blog yesterday which shares some of the inner workings of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee at the National Institutes of Health and how the recommended diet for people across the country is made. He says this year, the advisory committee listened to the urgings of the Physicians Committee doctors and dietitians to promote and encourage a more plant-based diet to the people. This blog entry demonstrates that we are beginning to move in a direction of health. There are signs that we can see through the media and our personal conversations every day showing that we are on the cusp of a nutritional and biological revolution.

 

My presentation this year at the Kushi Summer Conference centered around the theme of the age of macrobiotics. I feel that the age of macrobiotics will begin its unfolding within two to three years. My interpretation is based on recent changes in society, mostly in the attitude and acceptance of the connection between diet and health and between food, agriculture, the environment and climate—including global warming. The caring for and attitude towards animals is also changing. Our consciousness is expanding to include all of ourselves, the planet and all of life. We are also recognizing that the largest way we can stem global warming is to reduce or eliminate our consumption of animals, especially beef. There is not an agreement on the ideal way of eating yet, but there is general consensus that what and how what we eat is the most important factor on regulating our health.

Some students and I at the Kushi Summer Conference

At the Kushi Summer Conference with some students

 

I call it the age of macrobiotics because I feel that macrobiotics itself is coming into its time. This is because macrobiotics is much more than a diet, it is a way of life, which includes our approach to eating, as well as activity and lifestyle practices. In today’s day and age, it is difficult for many people to listen to their bodies and intuition. Macrobiotics rekindles a relationship with our inner voice, which helps us to get in touch with what is really important to us. It also realigns our life in a healthy and meaningful direction.

 

It’s my observation that health craves health and health is contagious. Healthy people, simply speaking, want to make more and more healthy choices in all aspects of their lives. They also want to share health with as many people as possible. It’s an exciting time because there are so many people coming together to make changes for healthier people and a healthier planet. Macrobiotics is unique for its ability to unify and harmonize diversity. It is the philosophy of balance, harmony, and change. Care and love of quality are also inherent to macrobiotics. It’s my hope that this way of life will be the hub that can strengthen and unify our movement towards health.

2 Comments | Tags: 7 Steps

Diet is Related to More Than Personal Health

Posted on by Denny Waxman

It’s no longer a personal choice of whether to eat animal or dairy foods or not. Our planet can only support the production of animal and dairy foods for a limited number of people. At the same time, the environmental effects of animal and dairy foods is devastating. Take a look at this graph that shows the differences of impact from a vegan diet, a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, and an omnivorous diet*.

Environmental Impact from Various Diets from MDPI study

Environmental Impact from Various Diets from MDPI study

Whether we like it or not, everything we do impacts climate, society and the environment. It is becoming more clear that eating and raising animals is the most devastating thing we are doing to the environment.

So it’s no longer a question about what the healthiest diet is. Raising grains, beans, and vegetables and eating them directly nourishes us at the most basic level. You can feed the entire planet on grains and beans and the agriculture devoted to the cultivation of grains and beans is in turn nurturing and sustaining to the planet. Understanding this connection means that we can all do our part to restore and help the environment we live in to heal.

*Baroni, L.; Berati, M.; Candilera, M.; Tettamanti, M. Total Environmental Impact of Three Main Dietary Patterns in Relation to the Content of Animal and Plant Food. Foods 20143, 443-460.

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Teachers Teaching Teachers in Lisbon, Portugal

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Good morning,

If you have a chance, please check out this flyer: TEACHERS TEACHING TEACHERS2. I will be in Portugal during October 17-19th with my long-time friends to speak on a very important topic. Please share this with people who may be interested. Registration is due by August 15th.

Thank you

1 Comment | Tags: Events

The Word of the Day is Play

Posted on by Denny Waxman

NPR shared some commentary on a study conducted by Cornell about walking. The idea was simple: when people went for a walk under the impression that the walk was a scenic tour, they were less likely to splurge on chocolate pudding after the walk. Another group went for the same walk. This walk was treated as an exercise, and those people were 35% more likely to indulge in more pudding. Exercise often makes people want to reward themselves. The commentary concluded that there is a relationship with the perception of exercise, and the necessity to “make workouts fun”.

The main idea is confusing activity with exercise and thinking that exercise is important for good health. We don’t need structured exercise; we need activity that is enjoyable, stimulating, and challenging. Healthy people like to be active; they are naturally drawn to walking and other activities, sports, or projects. We enjoy a natural activity because it is, for lack of a scientific word, fun and engaging. When children are at play, they do not want to eat. Food is far from their minds when they are playing. But when you tell kids to do their homework, or clean their room, they’ll almost always suddenly be hungry. Play is an open-ended experience that enhances our appetite for healthy food, to sustain our healthy play.

Most of my clients report that they greatly enjoy their walks. Walking is a natural activity and different from a being on a treadmill or taking power-walk. Walking as a part of your daily life or for the sake of walking is fun; you can simply enjoy observing what’s around you or let your mind wander. Integrating activities that you enjoy doing that are fun and challenging to you is like being a child at play.

Less structured exercise leads to less unhealthy snacking. In a recent blog about snacking, I talked about how snacking is perhaps a general response to a deeper frustration we may have. Feeling like we have another task at hand that is exercising is another form of work. And as they say, “All work and no play…”

1 Comment | Tags: 7 Steps

Amberwaves, Elizabeth Karaman, and macrobiotics

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Good morning,

I would like to share with you an informative and entertaining article by my friend Elizabeth Karaman about the trials of therapy, extreme work-outs, and macrobiotics. This article will be published by Amberwaves later this summer. Enjoy!

Below is a PDF of the article that you may want to share.

Acupuncture With A Fork – 6-8-14

 

ACUPUNCTURE WITH A FORK

Elizabeth Karaman

 

Reprinted from Amberwaves, Summer 2014

 

My best friend, a shrink, has a patient she calls grouchy girl due to her reactions to suggestions made to her during their sessions. Every range of emotion is expressed, from sullen anger to stomping on the floor while raging against her plight in life and her (imagined) beleaguered state. After her visit, grouchy girl feels compelled to work out her perceived unhappy existence at a gym where she pedals away on a bike in a frenzy. Or alternatively she attends a boot-camp session taught by a former navy seal.  Despite her tremendous effort to silence her angry inner voice, she is still left emotionally frustrated. Her volatility gets temporarily anesthetized, but still ripples throughout her being.

Extreme workouts are the latest trend for burning body fat and for emulsifying a jagged brain chemistry. High-Intensity Training is the name of this current workout craze to be found at selected gyms throughout the country. It’s no longer enough to lift some weights and follow that with a thirty-minute aerobic session. All of a sudden, this routine is shunned—it seems the extreme workout people believe it’s no longer adequate to remove all the body fat found on most Americans now. Speed running or intense cycling for short bursts of time are what’s required, they say. I guess none of these athletic connoisseurs have ever seen the star macrobiotic counselor Denny Waxman or the vegan doctor John McDougall, both of whom possess trim bodies despite their supposedly no-no diet of 80 percent carbohydrates, ten percent protein, and 10 percent fat. They do exercise, but moderately, and their diet is currently reviled by the paleo-enthusiasts and the gluten-free mavens.

At a gym, a lot of these people pay more than $100.00 an hour to get as sleek as a jaguar, but unfortunately for them, their jungle physiques have yet to be attained. Instead, they acquire a lot of muscle and stamina on top of their fat stomachs filled with big pharma’s medications to lower stubbornly high cholesterol levels, off-the-charts high blood pressure, and borderline elevated glucose. These rigid people wouldn’t dare eat a single kernel of any wholegrain food. Instead they eat bison or buffalo meat, along with the standard beef, chicken, fish staples, combined with salads loaded with olive oil. Protein is the key component of their supposedly healthy regimen. What they’re not being told is that places like MD Anderson Cancer Centers and the Salk Institute, among others, have learned that animal protein fuels the growth of cancer cells, in addition to contributing enough plaque to the cardiovascular system to cause a heart attack.

Accompanying 100-mile runs, double-spinning classes, and boot camps, body detox centers have arrived to provide the latest choice of purges.

Take your pick:

  • Drink enough saltwater to induce vomiting—this supposedly cleanses the contents of the stomach;
  • Drink water with epsom salts to induce diarrhea and further rid the body of toxins.

But wait, that’s not enough…

  • Also offered are extended juice fasts, colonics, and wheat-grass rectal infusions.
  • If more cleansing is in order, chelation therapy, ozone therapy, or bloodletting can be offered to satisfy the most fastidious customers.

In the 1970s, I visited China where I saw skinny yet muscular Chinese slurp down a bowl of noodles and then scamper up a palm tree as if it were a flight of stairs. Their diet contained tons of white rice along with a lot of Chinese vegetables and condiment-size portions of animal protein. They all had low body fat, tons of hair, clear skin, and flat stomachs. I was told that many of the men fathered children at an age when most men in America were reaching for Cialis to get their hydraulic system to work.

During the mid-eighties, my husband and I ran so low on money while vacationing in Florida that we were forced to forego such treats as ice cream, exotic, costly tropical fruits, expensive cheeses, and any animal food from land or sea in order to save enough money to get home. Instead we dined on the basic components of a macrobiotic diet. In my kitchen there, I still had brown rice, tofu, seaweed, lentils, cabbage, and collard greens—our splurge was on a bakery loaf of bread and rolled oats. In one week, my husband lost eight pounds and  I lost five, but we gained an inner calm and natural energy. All this for a few dollars, compared to the thousands it would have cost to join a gym or go to a detox spa.

Basically, macrobiotics is nothing more than acupuncture with a fork, which manages to balance the body without employing extreme measures. Give it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised and like what you find.

6 Comments | Tags: Articles and Research

Give Youths Back Their Health

Posted on by Denny Waxman
Play, or mischief?

Play, or mischief?

The Wellness section of The New York Times recently published a blog about the climbing numbers of sedentary youth in the country. Despite all claims that we as a country are making advances in health, it is clear that our health is declining and longevity is falling. Young people are at risk for developing degenerative illness, especially cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as cancer. In addition, 1/3 of our children between the ages of 6-19 are overweight or obese. There is a great concern that the U.S. is falling behind in education as well. There is a clear connection between being sedentary and a lack of interest or inability to learn.

 

Healthy people like to be active, challenge themselves, and learn. Throughout history, throughout the world, children have played outside without our involvement from morning until night, summer through winter. Why is it that our children no longer want to play? Being sedentary is a very clear indicator of poor overall health.

 

The article blames parents for not helping their children to exercise. That is not the solution. Healthy parents who are active and curious about life usually have children that grow up and foster similar attitudes and approaches. Health is a family issue. We learn about health through eating healthy foods at mealtimes. When healthy foods are reinforced at school, it becomes easier for children to make healthy choices.

 

Large quantities of poor-quality food do not encourage us to be active or foster an interest in learning.  We also have total access to unhealthy foods, but we have to seek out and make an effort to find high-quality, healthy foods.  Proper education about the long-lasting benefits of a plant-based diet and increasing access to healthy foods is the best solution for our youth and our future.

 

Michio and Aveline Kushi started the natural foods movement in the 60s by creating access to whole, natural, and organic foods. They encouraged the development of natural food stores and educational centers to make the food available and to teach people how to incorporate these foods into their daily lives. Now is a good time to make macrobiotic-style education more widely available so that a new generation of healthy children are better equipped to create a healthy future.

 

3 Comments | Tags: Articles and Research, Circulation

A Nation of Snackers

Posted on by Denny Waxman

In the final stages of completing the manuscript for my new book “The Complete Macrobiotic Diet,” the importance of meal times and eating without doing other things is on my mind and as timely as ever.

 

I am totally amazed at the poor state of our collective diet. Recently, the American Institute for Cancer Research published some statistics about our snacking habits and Today talked about our favorite types of snacks as of 2012. Snacking is replacing meals and nearly half of our population enjoys eating alone because they can get other things done at the same time.

 

It’s even worse that snacks change our taste for healthy foods. Craving snacks is an indication that we are not satisfied with our meals. And through not eating meals at all, snack cravings will naturally increase. Naturally healthy foods are moist and flexible, which is nearly the complete opposite of the dry, salty snacks that are the most popular. The dry, salty, snacks also create cravings for unhealthy liquids. It seems to me that this increased snacking is a symptom of a greater frustration in other areas of life, be it socially, emotionally, or job related.

 

If you’re going to snack, go to a health foods store, find a snack that has ingredients that you can understand. The second step is to then introduce foods that are naturally moist and refreshing and have a mild, natural sweetness. Replacing snacks with healthier choices is a much better approach than trying to stop them.

 

What are your favorite healthy snacks?

2 Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet